Is this something new and unusual in Washington? A Congressperson who's willing to state the bluntly obvious without couching it in terms meant to keep the LGBT community's support while not moving forward on our issues?
Rep Jackie Speier, D-CA, told the Bay Area Reporter that movement on ENDA is still five years away after speaking at the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Pride breakfast. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised a vote on ENDA this year repeatedly, Rep Barney Frank keeps mouthing platitudes, and openly gay Representatives Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis have also promised just-a-wee-bit-longer in exclusive video interviews for Bilerico Project, Speier lays it out bluntly:
Asked later in a brief interview if that meant the House would not vote on ENDA this year, Speier told the B.A.R., "The rest of the year is in question."
"There's no question 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will be history this year," she said. "ENDA, we will have that law for sure within the next five years."
"I'm being realistic," she said.
What a novel concept. Let's look at the facts after the jump.
The Congressional Calendar
With Congressmembers leaving for the Fourth of July holidays and their upcoming August recess, Congress doesn't have much time left to pass the legislation. Currently held up in committee, the bill would need to be scheduled for mark up - something that's been promised for months - and that process is usually staked out well in advance.
Is ENDA not on the schedule yet? Then don't hold your breath.
The Midterm Elections
Even if ENDA is put on the calendar for late July or after the August recess, do you really think Blue Dog Democrats want to vote on LGBT rights so soon before an election where they're expected to lose seats? We are the perennial third rail of progressive politics; politicians don't want anything to do with us but our money and volunteer efforts around election time.
While lily-livered Democrats shake and quiver at the thought of standing up for the basic human rights of all Americans, the despicable Republicans slobber at the chance to bash the Democrats for being LGBT positive. The dance cards have been filled in and we're wallflowers once again.
Politics isn't about doing the right thing. It's about getting re-elected so the politician can be in office to potentially do the right thing if it's convenient and doesn't look like it'll challenge their possibility of being re-elected.
It's the Senate, Stupid
As Speier points out the Bay Area Reporter, there are over 300 bills waiting for the Senate to take action. These pieces of legislation have all passed the House already, but remain stuck in the gridlock that is the Senate.
With that many bills already waiting a turn at bat, what do you think the chances are for LGBT rights to get any play? The answer, my friends, is slim to none.
Throw in the lack of enough votes to pass the bill with the transgender protections included and you've got a recipe for disaster. Combine all of that with those pesky midterm elections - and the possibility for an even more unfriendly Senate and what we've cooked up is a mud pie for queer rights.
So what do you think? Are you holding out any hope that ENDA will get passed by both houses of Congress this year? Care to make a prediction of what year we'll actually get our right to have our employment based on our job performance instead of who we go to bed with at night?
Bilerico's Associate Editor, Dr. Jillian Weiss, is at the White House today for a briefing with Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes. She'll be asking Barnes about Speier's comment and the White House's plan on passing ENDA.
Let's see if the White House has the courage to be as "realistic" as Congresswoman Speier.